Puppy/Breed Temperament

Since I've experienced all the Nihon Ken as pups, and all but the Hokkaido as adults, I've got a fairly good feel for what I like/dislike about the different breeds.

Kishu pups: Usually pretty confident, a little stubborn and block headed. They don't usually cause too much trouble, but when their switch kicks in, all hell breaks loose. That goes for puppies and adults. All of a sudden they're strong, focused, and breathing fire. Otherwise, they're pretty happy go lucky, and not too vocal. They like to be with me, but it's not the end of the world if I'm gone.

Shikoku pups: A bit more sensitive to their surroundings, not quite as confident as the Kishu, and they're rude players. They get themselves amped up and don't know how to turn it off. The other pup/dog will be giving off all the stop signals, eventually snarling and snapping, and they'll still be play bowing, nipping, and bumping. They're tenacious, without the Kishu's switch. They make a bit more noise too, most of that coming in the form of alarm barking. The breed does not handle stress that well, especially the females.

Hokkaido pups: Loud, just loud. They play loud, argue loud, whine loud, and they yodel. They also can tend to play like the Shikoku, but they have a Shiba like streak for snark thrown in as well. So they play rude, and when the other dog turns on them, they get all shocked and pissy. They've got tons of energy, and drink tons of water. They're a bit velcro, but not in the extreme.

Shiba pups: They've got the most annoying whine/bark of the Nihon Ken, and the Shiba scream... argh. I find them a bit more aloof toward me than the other pups I usually have. The medium sized breeds are usually a lot more attached, and whine to be close. The Shiba basically do whatever it is they want, whenever they want, but if they don't like something, you'll hear about it. I think the breed's motto should be something along the lines of, "The best defense is an offense." They've got extreme levels of snark. Behaviors from other dogs that may set them off: breathing in their direction, attempting a play bow, bumping, and got forbid eye contact!

Kai pups: All the puppies and dogs here at my place love Kai pups (and in the inverse, everyone takes a while to get over new Shikoku and Shiba pups). They're the Japanese breed that was born with social graces. That being said, there's a shy streak to the breed. They're not go, go, go, like the Shikoku or Hokkaido, but they have their moments. The breed is velcro in the extreme. I'm always prepared for a lot of wailing and screaming during crate training, or when I have to leave. I always have to handle this breed with kid gloves, as they have an insane memory bank for negative experiences. I find the Kai to be the easiest to train (in obedience and that sort of thing).

Akita pups: I haven't had enough of them come through to say. The ones that have, have been pretty easy, thought toilet training is a nightmare. They're kind of like the clumsy kid in class with a good heart. An Akita pup's wail is almost cute, it's so plaintive.

Here's my Kishu, Baron, playing with a 3 month old Shiba, and 2 month old Kai. Everyone hates the Shiba, but the Kai pup takes it all in stride. Baron's the greatest puppy sitter ever. I'll have to write a post about what Baron's like to own. Basically, I won the lottery.


  1. That is great insight, I always wondered how all the breeds compared.
    Have you the same experience from adults? Wondering if they all even out and calm down

    1. I don't think they even out, the breeds are all different in temperament, but they do calm down. The issues I've mentioned with them as pups, are issues that I see in the adults as well.

  2. Great write up, Shig... I agree with your observations 100%. Genko (Hokkaido) has chilled a lot with the noise, thank god. She reminds me a lot of the female Shikoku we've raised. Spot on with the Kishu too, you described Kishin perfectly. I'd also add, in my experience, the Kishu is one of the more cleaner NK breeds. The Akita too.

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